Macy’s on State Street settles discrimination suit

    Retailer accused of terminating employee with asthma after medical emergency

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    EMPLOYERS SUCH AS Macy’s are required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) to be sensitive to health needs and issues of employees. The retailer recently settled a suit where an employee with an asthma condition was refused a one day excused absence, and later fired, even though she was treated in a hospital emergency room that day.

    Crusader Staff Report

    Macy’s has settled a disability lawsuit filed after the company fired a former employee with asthma who was terminated from the State Street store in 2015 following a medical emergency, the EEOC announced April 18.

    Macy’s will pay Letishia Moore $75,000 as part of a settlement with EEOC, which filed a lawsuit after Macy’s and the agency failed to reach an agreement in June 2017.

    The EEOC said it found “reasonable cause” that Macy’s violated the American Disability Act when it fired Moore when a medical emergency prevented her from working her shift on June 7, 2017.  She was released after being treated in the emergency room, according to the suit.

    According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Moore  worked for Macy’s for nearly eight years, but she was fired after a one-day absence due to needing immediate medical attention for her asthma. Macy’s policy permits absences for disability-related reasons. However, in this case, Macy’s denied the employee’s request to excuse the absence, even though she had to be seen in a hospital emergency room, and fired her three weeks later.

    According to the complaint, Moore has asthma that “substantially limits her major life activities, including but not limited to breathing and can be fatal without treatment.” The suit also says Moore has a record of her impairment that she provided to Macy’s during her employment at the State Street store.

    The EEOC’s lawsuit said Macy’s “failed to provide the reasonable accommodation Moore requested or any other accommodation and terminated Moore’s employment because of her disability. “

    On August 16, 2017, the EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

    The $75,00 Macy’s has agreed to settle the lawsuit is part of a consent decree settling the suit and will provide additional relief intended to improve Macy’s workplace for employees with disabilities. Under the decree, Macy’s will train certain employees on disability law and accommodation requirements under the ADA. Macy’s will also monitor requests for accommodation and complaints of disability discrimination at its two Chicago stores and report those to the EEOC.

    The EEOC does not say whether Moore will receive her job back at Macy’s State Street store.

    “The ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate disability-related absences that enable their employees to perform their job,” said Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago. “Here, a one-day absence would have enabled the employee to return to the job she held for almost eight years. We are pleased with today’s settlement which will compensate the victim and monitor Macy’s accommodation practices with respect to the ADA.”

    Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney of EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said in a statement, “Macy’s response to the employee’s absence was not reasonable. The employee found herself in a potentially life threatening circumstance and phoned Macy’s to explain her absence before going to the hospital. The following day, she provided Macy’s documentation from the hospital showing she was treated for asthma. Rather than accommodate the employee, Macy’s fired her.”

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